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Google Says Shipping Is a Source of Frustration to Shoppers

Google Shopping has launched a new tool for online merchants that it says will help boost conversions by removing some of the potential for confusion over shipping costs. As part of its Merchant Center, Google addressed what they cited as a “primary source of frustration” for users by providing a new shipping configuration tool.

Google said the new shipping tool provides several features aimed at helping configure the most accurate rates for one’s products. Users can adjust their shipping rates for country, state, or city destinations, exclude certain regions as needed, and show the best rate to a customer out of multiple available shipping options.

Online sellers who deal in perishable or bulky goods can take advantage of a new shipping attribute that has been made available through this new tool. These items may need special labels, or merit different shipping rates because of the packaging.

Bulky items that weigh little but require larger shipping boxes would be a prime example of how this might be used. Major shipping companies FedEx and UPS plan to implement dimensional weight shipping rates after the 2014 holiday season.

Items that need bigger shipping containers will be more expensive to ship once 2015 begins. Users of Google Shopping will be able to make the shipping cost known to customers as part of the process, without surprising them at the end of the transaction with a different shipping cost than the one the customer saw at the start.

The shipping configuration tool provides four options for defining one’s shipping rates. The “single rate” method is for simple shipping models. Rate tables can be used for rates that vary based on up to two of price, weight, shipping label, or destination.

US retailers can opt to use carrier-calculated rates, which would be based on the rates provided by UPS, FedEx, or the US Postal Service. Finally one can make custom rules based on product attributes (likely helpful for bulky or perishable products) and destination.

Shipping problems not only frustrate customers but can have a negative effect on one’s brand. Bad weather during the close of the 2013 holiday shopping season resulted in lots of late deliveries and angry customers providing sound bites to major media outlets as they vented their displeasure. While this is an extreme example it does show how communicating ahead of time to customers can help mitigate future problems.

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David A Utter
David A Utter
David A. Utter is a freelance writer based in Lexington, KY. He has covered technology topics from search to security to online business and has been quoted in places like ZDNet and BusinessWeek. He considers his appearance on NPR's "All Things Considered" with long-time host Robert Siegel a delightful highlight. You can find him on Twitter @davidautter and on LinkedIn.